Sunday, September 12, 2010

September Stonefruits

There's something about stone fruits that reminds me of the far-east, spices, tea and whimsical settings.

When I took on canning, I had in my mind images of my parents canning shelves, filled with spaghetti sauce- enough for a year- and my grandma's basement pantry bursting with peaches in syrup, pickled peppers and enough applesauce for the entire family to take some home when we visited.
And though I still hold these lofty goals of putting up an entire year's worth of, well, anything, every month my Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge projects seem to morph into more of a creative experiment than a canning project.
Here I would like to insert some intelligent, Taoist Lao-Tzu quote, but instead I keep thinking of one of my former Chef's favorite sayings, which just seems to say it best- "It is what is is."

Imperial Stone Fruit Preserves
6 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings, sterilized
6 pounds mixed stone fruits
(I used 3 peaches, 2 nectarines, and an assortment of 6 plums)
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp 5-spice powder
1/2 tsp ginger sea salt (substitute 1/8 tsp ginger powder and 1/2 tsp sea salt)
3 green tea teabags
1 cup sugar

Blanch fruit in boiling water for 30 seconds to one minute, move to ice water bath and remove skins. Cut fruits into thin slices. In a medium pot, bring fruits, zest, juice, and spices to a low simmer. In a small pot bring 1 cup water to a boil, add tea bags and let steep four minutes. Remove teabags and reduce tea to 1/2 cup. Add tea and sugar to fruit and let simmer until syrupy and passes a set-test, about 40 minutes. Ladle into jars, wipe rims and attach rings and process 10 minutes.

This one is Joe's creation- dark, rich and mysterious in flavor, this confiture would pair with sweets as well as a glass of Cabernet and a thick slice of manchego cheese.

Cherry Cacao Confiture
1 1/2 pint jar and 1 1/4 pint jar, lids and rings, sterilized
1 3/4 pounds dark cherries (1 1/2 pounds pitted)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves, ground
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
dash sea salt
1/2 cup sugar

Wash and pit cherries. In a small pot combine cherries, balsamic vinegar, clove, cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt and bring to a low simmer. Let simmer until confiture begins to thicken. Add sugar and stir often, until it reaches a syrupy consistency, about 25 minutes. Ladle into jars, wipe rims, attach lids and rings and process for 10 minutes.

And just in case you wanted to know how to make the scones- here's the extremely easy recipe for those, too.

Whole Wheat Almond Scones
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup sliced almonds, plus 2 Tbsp
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
3/4 cup milk, plus 2 Tbsp

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift flours, baking powder and salt together. Cut in cold butter. Incorporate almonds and 1/3 cup sugar, then stir in 3/4 cup milk. Bring together dough on a floured surface and form into a large disk. Cut into eight pieces, brush the top with 2 Tbsp milk, sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp almonds. Move pieces to a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Remove and serve with an assortment of jams and whipped cream.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Joe's Giardiniera

With two chefs in our kitchen, there are always two ways of doing everything. As a married couple, you would think that the spirit of compromise would lead us to something of a hybrid recipe for the dishes we create, but somehow it never works out that way. Normally, one of us will come up with an idea and bring it to life, with the other tweaking it and offering insight along the way. While I really like to be the "chef", it is also interesting to be the "sous-chef", and see what comes out of the mind of another person when left to their own artistry.
Here, for example, is Joe's Giardiniera (compare to my version several months ago). It is miraculous to imagine these two very distinct recipes came from the same basic ingredients.

8 pint jars, lids and rings
1 bunch celery, sliced
1 head cauliflower, cut to florets
2 large hungarian wax peppers, sliced (with seeds for hot, no seeds for mild)
4 small onions, quartered
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 lb. carrots, sliced
1/2 lb. green beans
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 bulb garlic, sliced
1 Tbsp. peppercorns
5 Cups water
5 Cups vinegar
2 Tbsp. canning salt
2 Tbsp. sugar

Mix all vegetables except garlic in a bowl with oregano. Bring water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil to dissolve salt and sugar; cover and hold. Sterilize jars, lids and rings. Divide garlic and peppercorns among jars. Pack vegetables into jars and top with brine. Attach lids and rings and process for ten minutes.